Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Looking Up

Last night we set up the telescope on the front porch and looked at Jupiter and its four major moons. (Of course our view wasn’t like the above picture at all!!)

Jupiter is closer to the earth right now than it has been since 1963, nearly 50 years ago. If you go outside after 9 p.m. tonight and look toward the East, that very bright star—the only thing brighter will be the nearly full moon—is Jupiter. If you have really good eyesight, Uranus is a dim, bluish-green star, just above Jupiter—within the same binocular field.

Last night, the moons were actually lined up in a perfectly straight line with two moons on each side of Jupiter--similar to the above photo--only better!! Emily’s eyesight is pretty good (better than mine), and she could actually see the band across Jupiter--I could see a faint shadow.

By Saturday [Friday, actually!], all four moons will be clustered on one side of Jupiter.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Different" and "Rougher"

A week ago Sunday, there was a Regional Stake Conference broadcast (140 Stakes in Utah Valley and Heber Valley). The concluding speaker, Boyd K Packer, said, “things are going to be different from now on—things will be rougher for us than they were for the pioneers.” This remark followed Jeffrey Holland’s recounting of two rather dramatic pioneer stories. In turn, Jeffrey Holland’s talk followed two other talks which were about strengthening our testimonies and doing even better than we currently are in our faith and obedience.

For the past week, I have thought a lot about “different” and “rougher.” If Elder Packer’s talk had been a stand-alone talk, it may not have had the same impact as it actually had. Put together with the other talks, his statement was made more significant, and vice versa. Taken as a whole, the bottom line message (to me) from the conference seemed to be “your levels of faith, obedience, and testimony may have been fairly adequate up to this point, but today’s levels will not be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges.”

As I’ve contemplated what he meant by “different,” I hardly know what to imagine or expect because things have been increasingly “different” over my whole lifetime. To become dramatically more “different” than today’s measure of “the-way-things-are” suggests (for one thing) that evil and wickedness will become significantly more rampant. “Rougher” seems to suggest physical challenges, and yet I think Elder Packer said that these “rougher” challenges will be more than physical.

So, not knowing specifically what to prepare for to face “different” and “rougher,” my only alternative at this juncture is to: (1) remember the inspiring faith and obedience of the pioneers and follow their examples, (2) purposefully increase my own personal faith and obedience, thereby strengthening my testimony. Thus fortified, the Holy Ghost will be able to tell me in the very hour what specific things I should do, and I will be able to recognize and confidently heed His voice while I am facing all of the “different” and “rougher” challenges that lie in my path.

That should keep me busy for a while. :D


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Out-Witting the "Super-Bugs"

The headlines this week sounded the alarm about deadly antibiotic-resistant “super bugs” that have emerged from India and in recent weeks have shown up in California, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

Albeit, this current alarm is somewhat reminiscent of the H1N1 (“swine flu”) alarm from last year—which, in the end (as you may recall), turned out to be a lot of unnecessary hysteria.

Nevertheless, cautionary hygiene measures are not only a wise choice, but could even make a life-and-death difference. So, wash your hands! For Pete’s sake (and yours too), wash your hands!! Soap and running water are remarkably effective in washing away those sneaky invisible bugs that lurk on every surface. And, after you have washed, go ahead and use some of that “hand sanitizer” glop, too. It can’t hurt.

However… Ahem: The truth about hand sanitizers is that they only might help . . . a little. I recently read a study on the effectiveness of hand sanitizers that found “no statistical proof” that they actually help to fight the bugs.

Unfortunately, some people erroneously think that the hand sanitizer glop is just as good as—or better than—soap and water. This is definitely not the case. Worse yet: it might even give its user a false sense of security, so that he consistently skips really washing his hands and uses this potentially ineffective glop instead. Now, think about that “health care professional” you recently visited who actually used hand sanitizer instead of soap and water! Yikes!

Now there’s a real reason for alarm!

Are you courageous enough to ask your doctor or nurse to use soap and water before they touch you to take your pulse or blood pressure or temperature or listen to your heart and lungs with their stethoscopes? And speaking of their stethoscopes, you should also ask them when they last cleaned that stethoscope! Someone did a study on stethoscopes and found them to be incredibly germy things.

Having said all that, here is another truth: washing your hands and glopping on hand sanitizers will not protect you from air-borne bugs. Cold and flu viruses are definitely air-borne.

If you have a cold or the flu you can protect others, of course, by capturing the bugs that you cough and sneeze out by using a handkerchief or your elbow sleeve. But, to keep from succumbing to those air-borne bugs in the first place, you will need to bolster your immune system.

Yes. I’m sure you know where this is heading—having repeatedly heard me on this topic. It’s hard to argue with success, however, and I speak from experience (my whole life I have been prone to getting colds, flu, and pneumonia—until I began taking Vitamin D-3). Vitamin D is essential to your immune system, and nearly all Americans are Vitamin D-deficient. The old 400 IU RDA is now known to be laughably, ridiculously low. The new cautious recommendation is 1000 IUs for children (under the age of 12) and 2000 IUs for adults. To overdose on Vitamin D, you would have to take more than 20 times that amount every day for years. Humans make at least 10,000 units of vitamin D within 30 minutes of full body exposure to the sun. If you have little, or no, sun exposure you will need to take at least 5,000 IU per day.

To learn more, go to “vitamindcouncil.org”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hooray for September!

Hooray for September! I've decided that for me August is the second most odious month in the year: long and hot and miserable. January is the first most odious--long and dark and cold. Don't you just love the picture (above) which now graces my desktop?